And the mountains echoed. A fitting title indeed, for an emotionally gripping book in which the mountains can be seen as a backdrop against which the choices we make, forever resonate.
The novel opens in a small village in Afghanistan with a father telling his children a bedtime story. The fable he recounts is about a simple peasant forced to give up his beloved child to a div, a demonic giant in Afghan folklore. The peasant chooses to give up the child who is happy and provided for by the creature instead of taking him back home to his village which is blighted by drought and where children are perishing. This sets the theme for what follows – wherein duty, sacrifice and family relationships affect the choices that are made and through which the present is haunted by the past.
While touching on the troubles of modern day Afghanistan, this sprawling novel sweeps over time periods and across continents, in the company of a wide cast of characters, all of whom are somehow intertwined. Author Khaled Hosseini’s wonderful storytelling comes to the fore as many stories are told within one story, in different voices, jumping from past to present. Heart-breaking is a word that comes to mind to describe the book which captures love in its many manifestations. The central tragedy is of the lifetime separation of two devoted siblings. Their reunion at the end of the book is much awaited, but it occurs on its own terms, quite unlike the way you would expect, but rather like the way things sometimes happen in life. It ties in well with the fable in the beginning, where the peasant father is given a potion by the div, that erases his memory and with it, the pain of having lost his son.
Reading this book, you won’t just shed a tear.You will probably weep.
Title: And the Mountains Echoed
Author: Khaled Hosseini
- Suneeta, Highland Park Library